Applying The Four Containers

by | Nov 15, 2022

Being a leader requires having the courage of your conviction and the conviction of your courage. The Four Containers enable leaders to embody both so they make better decisions around complex issues.  

Great leadership isn’t something you learn overnight by following a few easy steps, however the Learn Lead Lift Framework® and The Four Containers both support better leadership through inclusive, equity-minded, authentic and trauma-informed approaches. As a reminder, The Four Containers helps us take informed action on complex issues affecting our stakeholders by examining:

1. Bodily autonomy and personal agency

2. Business, legal and financial exposure to risk

3. Institutional structures and systems

4. People, equity and social justice

Embodying integrity internally and externally requires you to think broadly and deeply about the issues that matter to your stakeholders. While people may disagree with your conclusions, the fact that you’ve put in the time and energy to deliberate matters to them. 

Applying The Four Containers sometimes generates more good questions than definitive answers–that’s okay, too.

Great leadership emerges through our active engagement with challenging questions. Consider questions as opportunities to examine your mindsets, skill sets and behaviors while you are inspiring and generating new possibilities for others.

It’s helpful to understand what really motivates you as a leader. If you’re highly motivated by how much you or your organization may receive in exchange for the time you invest in an activity, how will you measure that? My personal calculator factors more than time or billable revenue. I also account for the impact on my physical, mental and spiritual health and energy.  And, I acknowledge that some things are more energizing for me and some are more depleting independent of their degree of difficulty or how they impact others. For example, a ten-mile hike might be fairly physically depleting for me but spending time in nature, taking in beautiful vistas and talking with my partner will make it more energizing on balance.  

Applied organizationally, The Four Containers help teams unlock valuable new insights and operationalize Company mission and values in more powerful ways. At Kadabra, we developed The Four Containers following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade because we know that people expect organizational leaders to understand their stakeholders and offer solutions for issues that impact them. While there is no such thing as a perfect solution, great leaders work to create sustainable, long term solutions that reflect a duty of care

I hope The Four Containers function like a new pair of corrective lenses–an antidote for actions that seem to stakeholders as either too near or far-sighted. I am reminded of one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby. Tom and Daisy are described as “careless people” unconcerned with (and perhaps unable to perceive) their impact on others, to the point where their myopia results in tragedy. 

Referencing fiction isn’t intended to spark guilt for actions taken or not taken in the past. Instead, consider it a personal invitation to review your previous decisions and imagine how you would approach things differently using The Four Containers. We can’t control what’s already happened, but we can control how we choose to lead now. Putting Learn Lead Lift® Practice will help leaders work through discomfort, spot strengths and weaknesses and how to turn perceived threats into golden opportunities.

New to this series of articles about The Four Containers? Check out Introducing The Four Containers, The First Container: Bodily Autonomy and Personal Agency, The Second Container: Business, Legal, and Financial Exposure to Risk and Upside, The Third Container: Institutional Structures and Systems and The Fourth Container: People, Equity and Social Justice.

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